Time to take covers seriously

In order to stop potential contaminants entering the water supply, Strataform is calling for water companies to consider high-security measures when selecting their access covers

With AMP4 now firmly on the agenda, Strataform, which claims to be the UK's first recognised designer and manufacturer of water industry access covers, is urging utilities to look long and hard at the important differences between what the company calls adequate and genuine high-security measures.

According to Strataform, which in the late 1980s worked with Severn Trent Water to replace traditional GRP constructions by creating a new, galvanised mild steel access cover, the benefits of true high-security have never been more important. Attacks on, or sabotage of, water supplies have become an unfortunate possibility. Typically, high-security steel hatches and doors serve to control access to large, re-inforced concrete storage tanks and underground chambers. Increasingly in the UK, most of these doors are alarm-monitored and fitted with sensors. Strataform's access hatches are designed with special features, such as secondary internal covers to prevent contaminants being poured directly into the water. The moat's discreet drainage allows any introduced fluids to drain safely away from the water supply.

The Kidderminster-based company, which has more than 30 years of experience in metal fabrication, also stresses the need for water quality managers to address mounting concerns over the level of contaminants that can get sucked into reservoirs from inadequately designed access covers. "Bugs, rubbish and grass for starters", said Strataform's managing director David Clements. He added: "Without a carefully designed, high-internal, moated lip and the appropriately placed ventilation, it should be of paramount importance to a water company's drinking water supply that foreign fluids and objects do not get sucked into reservoirs." Strataform maintains that an out-of-sight, out-of-mind mentality could overlook the need for the clean moat conditions the firm has described. The perimeter seal prevents contamination by any unwanted foreign matter entering the inner moat and also stops clogging of the filtration effect. Clements added: "Water companies will rightly look to access covers that are approved to loss prevention standards (LPS) 1175 issue five level four, but at this crucial AMP4 stage, compromising on issues such as security and water quality should not be an option." In response to manual handling regulations, water quality considerations and security risk assessments, constant design improvements culminated in the Strataform Sentinel 2000 range of access covers. Although made available in external padlock versions, the Sentinel 2000 series includes what the firm claims was the first and only integral locking access cover approved and certified by the Loss Prevention Certification Board to LPS1175 security rating four. Issue four of LPS 1175 was adopted for all potable water applications throughout the UK water industry.

The significance of continuous airflow has also become more apparent to allow for the rise and fall of water usage within the reservoir. Correctly designed ventilation can also prevent the possibility of a roof implosion, due to an extremely high vacuum in a critical drain-off situation. This can be provided by specially designed ventilation panels within high-security covers. "As well as security and water quality issues, an emergency situation should never of course be discounted", continued Clements.

"A vent design with easy pop-in moulded vent panels will also automatically pop-out to give an increased 100% ventilation in the event of a rapid draw-down vacuum condition." Access covers that have become plagued with insects, dust and such like, also require cleaning, which according to Strataform, is a cost and an operational issue that again, should be taken into account when water companies consider which designs will best protect their reservoirs. "Even the most efficient cleaning operation will not be fool-proof", said Clements. "By the time a contamination problem is discovered, it will usually be too late."



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